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In 1943, KU Chancellor Deane W. Malott recommended that the University of Kansas create an academic major on American subjects that would “cut across the existing departmental and group barriers,” strengthen liberal arts education, and better prepare students to be productive and informed citizens.  A liberal arts education, he argued, was intended to offer students a “broad understanding of life” for solving the “great and complex problems of the present day.”  His appeal led to the development of an American Civilization major and program, and eventually Department of American Studies.  Today, American Studies at KU serves of KU’s liberal arts curriculum.  Here, faculty and students think critically about the multiple meanings of the United States in global context, particularly with regard to culture, society, and identity.

Our faculty members teach and research within and across the fields of history, anthropology, literature, visual culture, sociology, race and ethnic studies, women and gender studies, disability studies, religion, and more.  A sample of the courses we offered this past year include: Jewish American Pop Culture, American Identities, Religion in American Society, Aging and Film, Comic Books and Film, The 1950s, African American Childhood and Youth in Film, Kansas Art & Popular Culture, and America’s Latinos and Latinas, to name a few.

American Studies at KU is a leader among its regional and national peers.  Our faculty members and students engage beyond the classroom.  They share their thinking and research through popular media, performance, and civic engagement.  Our faculty members exemplify leadership in the discipline of American Studies and in their respective subfields of scholarship, publishing regularly in major periodicals, academic and popular presses.  And few departments can boast the presence and editorship of two journals, American Studies Journal and Women, Gender, and Families of Color

Through studying topics such as film, jazz, literature, visual culture, gender, race and religion, American studies investigates the United States in the present and the past, beyond both disciplinary and national boundaries. Given our recognition of the critical impact of difference and power, we insist that a student's program of study consider the profound impact of diversity on society and address differential power structures.  Given this, our students are primed for a 21st century workforce – one that demands critical skills in reading, writing, research, an understanding of social and cultural diversity, lifelong learning, and critically involved citizenship.  Our alumni are located in varied public and private sector careers such as journalism, education, social service, human resources, business administration, corporate administration, law, publishing, museums, and public radio.

Undergraduates may pursue a Bachelor’s of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor’s of General Studies (B.G.S.) Minor in Latino/a Studies, and/or Minor in American Studies.  At the graduate level, we offer a Master’s of Arts (M.A.), a joint M.A. in American Studies and Urban Planning, a doctorate (Ph.D.), and, as of this year, a Graduate Certificate in American Studies.  We welcome all students regardless of status and non-degree seeking students are encouraged to enroll in our courses.

We hope that you consider American Studies as you think about the goals of your education.  We will do our best to work with you to design the learning experience that best contributes to your personal and intellectual development, and your professional aspirations.

Jennifer Hamer, Chair

Professor Jennifer Hamer to Serve as Department Chair

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Jennifer Hamer as the next Chair of the Department of American Studies. Professor Hamer succeeds Associate Professor Henry Bial, who was appointed Chair of American Studies in 2011.
Professor Hamer, who is also a member of the Department of African & African-American Studies, joined the KU faculty in 2012 from the University of Illinois, where she held a variety of leadership positions including service as Head of the Department of African American Studies and Associate Dean of the Graduate College. Since joining our department, she has chaired our personnel committee as well as the steering committee for last year's celebration, Reflecting Forward: 60 Years of American Studies at KU. She has also lent her support to a variety of campus and community initiatives.

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Congratulations to our colleague Jacob Dorman for racking up the book prizes for his book Chosen People: • The American Historical Association’s 2015 Wesley-Logan Prize for best book in African diaspora history • Raboteau Prize for the best book in Africana Religions.

Congratulations to our colleague Jacob Dorman for racking up the book prizes for his book Chosen People: • The... http://t.co/QQDMgivfkA

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